You may recognize Shawna Jarrett from the Charleston comedy scene. The humor writer, essayist, and cartoonist is prolific, and very busy. Jarrett was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Charleston Stand-up Comedy Competition, hosts charitable events around town, hosts the monthly Frothy Beard Comedy Night, is the producer of the Charleston Comedy Mixtape, and works on several other projects with fellow Charleston-based comic Joseph Coker as part of Comedy Cabal. Oh, and she’s pretty fuckin funny.
“I want to talk about having a name like Shawna when you’re a semi nerdy brunette with glasses and not like a day shift stripper from Tampa,” Jarrett posits during a 2015 stand-up “I’m the wrong kind of Shawna.” And she’s excited to host other hilariously like-minded comics at this year’s LGBTLOL event as part of Charleston Pride.
This is not Jarrett’s first time at LGBTLOL, but it is her first time hosting the gig. “I opened last year and had an absolute blast. I was so excited to be asked to host this year,” says Jarrett. “As a host for this kind of show, I’ll do some jokes up top, make the audience feel welcome, and set the stage to showcase the talent I’m bringing up. As the only Charleston comic on the show, I kind of feel like I get to literally play host for these great comedians from all over. Or great comedians ‘from off,’ if we wanna get SUPER Charleston about it. It’s an honor, sincerely.”
The comedians “from off” hail from Seattle, Atlanta, Charlotte, California, and Columbia, S.C. And they all identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or gender non-conformist. When asked about the makeup of Charleston’s comedy scene, Jarrett admits that, “like most comedy scenes, the Charleston comedy scene is primarily straight white guys.” But that doesn’t mean it isn’t growing, changing, as non-straight white males become more and more comfortable getting on stage and letting their funny flags fly.
The Charleston scene, says Jarrett, “isn’t at all by design, and it’s true of pretty much every comedy scene, though it is changing — more women, POC, queer folk, etc. are taking a seat at the table, with or without ‘permission’ from established channels, and having a voice, and comedy is a pretty direct way to do that. I mean, you literally get a microphone. Also I have worked in enough other cities to know that our scene is EXTREMELY welcoming. I have always felt at home, and I’ve made some of the best friends in my life while doing nerdy queer lady comedy in this town. I think we’d all love to have a bigger LGBT comedy scene. Come on out, y’all!”
Like LGBTLOL headliner Sampson McCormick, Jarrett sees the state of the union — as fragile as it may appear — to be ripe for the LGBT community to continue to come together. “This show is during Pride, and nationally, from the present day back to Stonewall, Pride has always been about visibility in the face of enforced invisibility. LGTB folks have a very unique perspective on the same world you inhabit, and there is a LOT of funny in the space between those experiences. We’re here, we’re queer, and in THIS case, we specifically want you to come laugh at us.”
LGBTLOL’s night of comedy takes place next Thurs. Sept. 21 at the Music Hall starting at 8 p.m. You can purchase tickets for $15 at the door, or for $10 online with promo code: chspride.